Continuous Feedback in Remote/Hybrid Teams
Before COVID, many leaders and managers learned that, rather than wait for an annual or semi-annual performance review to give people feedback, it’s better to give continuous feedback—feedback that is as close in time as possible to the behaviors (or absence of the behaviors).
Why Continuous Feedback?
The idea is that we learn better if we’re given specific feedback as soon as possible. So if I do a great job on a sales pitch, I’m likely to it well again if you tell me why it was good (e.g., what about it) right after, so it’s fresh in my memory. Ditto if my sales pitch was lackluster—if you can give me specific feedback about how I can improve as soon as possible, I’m better able to make those changes to my pitch. Or how I run a meeting. Or make a presentation. Or develop a poll. And so on.
In Remote/Hybrid Teams, Does the Continuous Feedback Process Change?
Do remote and hybrid work change that process in some way? Yes. When giving feedback, if one or both people are remote, even brief immediate feedback may necessitate a more formal process: sending a message to stay on a video call after everyone leaves or find a time to meet, rather than a quick after-the-meeting “hey do you have a minute?” You want to make sure the person has the time to really listen and take it in.
We Lose Some Non-Verbal Cues
In addition, when giving feedback, we utilize the non-verbal cues of the receiver as we give feedback. When the feedback is done over video (or phone), we lose a lot of that non-verbal information. In turn, this can make it harder for the receiver to take in our feedback.
Giving Feedback: A Refresher
When there’s more than one thing to improve, think about what you want to prioritize and make that clear. In giving feedback:
Start by asking questions. For instance, “how do you think that went?” Find out whether they’re aware of where/how they can improve so you know how to frame your feedback.
Offer appreciation before you offer criticism. Your appreciation should be specific, such as “I liked the overview you gave at the beginning because it….”
State your good intentions. For instance, “I know that with a bit of effort you can really nail this,” or, “I’m going to give you some feedback because I want to help you grow and learn in the job and I think the information can help.”
Clarify and contrast. Make sure the person understands what you are and aren’t saying: “What I mean is X; I don’t mean Y.”
Ask them what they think the key takeaways are. If they haven’t quite got it, go over the key takeaways again. You can even go through the process again about whatever they didn’t consider a key takeaway, but you did. For instance, “I notice you didn’t mention X as a key takeaway. Why not?” Note that you may not have done as good a job as you thought in prioritizing the feedback.